NOVA Chemicals Corporation (NOVA Chemicals) launched version 5.0 of its proprietary BONFIRE Film Development Platform for modeling and simulating multilayer films. A free tool for NOVA Chemicals’ customers and broader value chain collaborators, the BONFIRE Platform speeds development of sustainable flexible packaging by helping designers and engineers shortlist formulations and reduce the number of physical trials. The Platform helps converters achieve sustainability goals through material reduction (downgauging), transition from multimaterial laminates to recyclable PE structures and closing the loop with post-consumer resin (PCR) incorporation.

Version 5.0 adds several new modules and enhancements:

  • Laminations Structure Builder
  • Sealant Dashboard
  • Molecular Architecture Dashboard
  • Addition of post-consumer resins (PCR)

The Laminations Structure Builder is a key addition to the BONFIRE Platform’s capabilities, that predicts properties for adhesive laminations made from a print web and a sealant web. In the past, these laminates have most commonly been made from mixed materials, such as a metalized PET print web with a PE sealant web. With a growing number of consumers citing recyclability as the most important feature of packaging (based on a 2021 NOVA Chemicals consumer survey), designers are looking for help to change these structures into monomaterial, recyclable formulations.

“The BONFIRE Platform has grown to become a robust online tool that many of our customers rely on when they’re developing new film structures,” says Dan Ward, technical service specialist, NOVA Chemicals, and the BONFIRE Platform architect. “Adding the Laminations module helps our customers simplify the complex process of designing films for recyclable packaging that brands, retailers and consumers are demanding.”

Two new resin information dashboards provide valuable data to help select the best resins for a given application. In the Sealant Dashboard, users can compare seal properties of up to five resins; results are presented in table and visual chart formats. The Molecular Architecture Dashboard provides differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) results, which quantify the thermal properties of a resin including melting points, crystallinity and heat of fusion. Similar to the Sealant Dashboard, up to five resins can be compared and are presented in table and chart formats.

BONFIRE 5.0 also adds NOVA Chemicals’ portfolio of PCR to its resin database, enabling users to predict the performance of structures that include recycled content. “To fully close the loop on the plastics circular economy, structures must be recyclable and include recycled content,” says Greg DeKunder, vice president of marketing and circular economy, NOVA Chemicals. “With the addition of PCR grades, our proprietary BONFIRE Platform now allows our customers and value chain collaborators to design truly circular structures that meet their applications’ sustainability and performance requirements.”

Rob Clare, applications development specialist at NOVA Chemicals, depends on the BONFIRE Platform when he’s working with customers on new film formulations. “BONFIRE is an incredible time-saver for NOVA Chemicals and for our film producers. It allows me to virtually screen potential film structures, narrow both the scope of extrusion trials and physical testing needed for new packaging development, and save customers several days of film production and packaging trial time.”

The BONFIRE Platform was launched in 2014 as a single module — the Multilayer Property Predictor. It has grown to include close to a dozen predictors, calculators and resin information modules, along with the BONFIRE Academy learning hub. NOVA Chemicals’ BONFIRE team continues to develop new features and enhancements that will encompass more and more parameters that help predict packaging performance, enable recyclability and accelerate the journey towards a circular economy.